Conversion therapy, & Canadian freedoms at risk: Bill M 218-2019
by Danielle Martell
LGBTQ2+, SOGI 123, swift changes in law, and a rapidly shifting culture, are among some of the most controversial topics of our day. But did we expect the loss of many basic Canadian freedoms to partner alongside this list of controversies in our free land of Canada?
‘Bill M 218-2019: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act’ has been raising such concerns among many British Columbians. On May 27, 2019 the bill was put forward by Green Party MLA, Dr. Andrew Weaver. It successfully passed its first reading and currently awaits its second reading. In the meantime, many people have become concerned that a vast array of fundamental freedoms we previously enjoyed as Canadians in areas of free speech, public debate, child rearing, religion, and practicing the ordinary expertise of our jobs, are quickly becoming a luxury we can no longer assume.
The reason for this is that the bill raises many controversial concerns, including the bill’s intent, stated in the explanatory note which reads: “This bill prohibits the provision of conversion therapy to minors by health professionals, as a hospital service or professional service, and by persons in a position of trust or authority.”
According to Dr. Weaver’s website, people in “positions of trust or authority” also includes “faith leaders, youth organizations, and even so-called family support groups” (www.andrewweavermla.ca/?s=bill+m218). As for the bill, it defines ‘conversion therapy’ as: “counselling, behaviour modification techniques or the administration or prescription of medication or any other practice, treatment or service provided with the purported objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, but does not include:
(a) services that provide acceptance, support or understanding of a person or that facilitate a person’s coping, social support or identity exploration or development, or
(b) a gender-confirming surgery or any related service.
A serious critique of the bill is being proposed by a group of “concerned citizens of BC” who have set out to identify the many troubling aspects of the bill. A worthwhile read of their content can be found on their website: www.concerned.ca.
The scholarship is well documented and credible. Interestingly however, you will notice that the people behind it do not identify who they are. This is highly concerning because it is indicative that we are living in very troubling times. Though I was able to interview one of the leaders involved, the people wish to remain anonymous due to the concern that it could be even dangerous to have a different perspective than the government on this matter. The concern is that one could be in danger of losing not just their job and reputation, but also face the courts. When people are afraid of holding different convictions than the government, you know that the freedom of speech and public debate in British Columbia, and Canada at large, are no longer what they once were.
Though the original intention of the bill was perhaps to benevolently protect a minority, at the same time, it has left many others feeling extremely vulnerable.
Why the vulnerability? A variety of concerned citizens, including medical professionals, professors, parents, counselors, child care workers, religious leaders, and others have found the proposed bill to be both troubling and disturbing for a whole host of reasons, but particularly, because it carries a very vague definition of “conversion therapy.” If that means you can’t kidnap minors, physically assault them, and force your way on them, that’s not the problem. Everyone agrees that should be outlawed and it already is. Therefore, there is no need for a new bill. However, this bill takes extra measure to prohibit even the ‘counselling’ of minors. Does this then mean that a doctor is not permitted to counsel a child on the medical concerns surrounding puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, irreversible genital surgeries and the psychological effects, even where the science is unknown or not precise, unless that doctor recommends and affirms only LGBTQ2+ ideologies? Do children have access to only one-sided counselling? Do parents, who know their children best, still have freedom to guide them? Will people wi.th valuable expertise stop working with children out of fear of losing their jobs, facing court-enforced fines, or going to jail? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many people are concerned that this bill infringes upon Canadian freedoms including the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion, and the freedom to practice our professions according to our expertise.
The problems identified in this bill are causing some to question if we’re living in a country that is free in name but not in practice. If you find yourself these days frequenting the prayer, “God keep our land, glorious and free,” you’re not alone. To become more informed about making amendments to this bill, visit www.concerned.ca. Today is the day to speak.